“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “The Quinoa” Chapter 64
By Bruce Williams
Every family has their culinary favorites—the ones that get the kids’ feet eagerly pounding down the stairs when the chow bell gets rung (or more likely when they’re FaceTimed that dinner’s ready). In our house I do most of the grilling: burgers, ribs, flank steak, filets, salmon, ribeyes, thick New Yorks. I make a mean crockpot of chili, and an equally sumptuous meatloaf with mashers. If we’re in the mood for the Big Breakfast, I’ll whip up some cheesy eggs and hot potatoes and there won’t be anything left but the greasy after-dishes. Equally adept with a knife, I can usually slap together a colorful charcuterie tray (a “platter”) that the girls and I will pick at while we watch TV.
My wife makes a satisfying baked ziti, a stick-to-your-ribs country chicken supper, two kinds of tacos (chicken on soft shells and ground beef on hard), wonderful spaghetti, a breaded chicken with potatoes and broccoli that I like but I know she thinks is a little heavy. And then there’s her quinoa dish that both her and Olivia love, but I’m a little less enthusiastic about. I’ve had it fresh out of the oven once or twice and it’s quite good when you get it hot, but since I often get home from work somewhat later, I’ll balk at reheating it because of the spinach and sliced tomatoes—there’s something about mushy reheated vegetables paired with that hipster pseudocereal that fails to get my salivary glands juiced.
I’ve become known for being somewhat elusive when told about and directed towards The Quinoa’s Tupperwared presence in the fridge. Taking a pass—having either had “a big lunch” or only just wanting some dessert tonight—then having a dinner-plate sized brownie. Last night I actually opened up the container with one raised eyebrow and a shrug, only to be overcome by the garlicky scent emanating from the barleyesque curds—then resealed it and grabbed some cheese and crackers instead. I’m getting old enough now that that much spice at bedtime might spawn reflux (or worse). My daughter Lou will now joke sometimes from a barstool with my wife as she’s stirring the skillet about what my excuses will be this time. Apparently my wife’s co-workers are in on the joke now too—I came back from walking Clark the day after it’s last appearance and Michelle and her friends Jonte and Denise were having a right-old chortlefest about how I’d wriggled out of The Quinoa yet once again.
The clincher for me in the whole deal is the turkey sausage, though. I know it’s supposed to be better for you, but it’s just peachy-brown and rubbery enough to remind me of what ground penises would probably taste like (texture-wise) if someone slipped them into a clever casserole and disguised them with several cupfuls of minced garlic. Yes, I know that’s a ridiculous thought and hardly a legitimate reason, but it’s how I feel and I’ve been told that that makes it justifiable in today’s world.
We’ve been mixing our routine up with Hello Fresh deliveries, which have been surprisingly good (I don’t ask how much it costs), and we’ll throw in a pizza or some Thai food when we’re both too tired to cook. Jack keeps finding us new off-the-beaten-path hamburger joints—you know the kind with messy burgers and real fruit milkshakes so thick you have to wait for them to melt a little bit to get through the straw. But The Quinoa is always lurking somewhere on the calendar, and if I stumble on it still steaming I will scoop up a couple of ladles-full and it’s pretty good when It’s just been born. Chances are, though, I’ll rub my belly, scrunch up my face and claim satedness…then wander down later after she’s fallen asleep and snack on something entirely different. All this time I thought I was fooling her and sparing her feelings, but as always she’s onto me and the jig is up. Much like, but not to the degree that I’ve eternally avoided my mother’s gelatinous holiday aspic, The Quinoa is there—lingering on the periphery of my existence, subtly ingratiating itself into the fabric of my life with neither regret nor apology.